UK payments are about to see their biggest change in a generation according to the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR).

The comments come as the Payments Strategy Forum, a body of experts set up by the PSR, published its Final Strategy for overhauling the current payment systems and putting the interests of those that use payments services centre stage.

The Forum, whose members include consumer groups, fintechs and UK banks and building societies, today announced plans to introduce a series of initiatives over the next few years.

These initiatives are focused on collaborative innovation, where the industry needs to work together to tackle everything from the needs and protection of the end user, to helping organisations access payment systems more easily.

Among the initiatives published in today’s Strategy are the consolidation of three retail payment system operators, Bacs Payment Schemes Ltd, Cheque and Credit Clearing Company (C&CCC) and the Faster Payments Scheme Ltd (FPS).

The Forum also plans to create a new payments ‘architecture’ that is simpler, more accessible and more responsive to future user needs and innovation than the current model. 

Hannah Nixon, Managing Director of the Payment Systems Regulator, said:

"The payments industry, including the technology, infrastructure, services offered to users, is going through the type of wholesale change that is only seen once in a generation. When people look back at the evolution of payments in the UK, these will be the years that they will talk about and say, that’s when things changed.

"There is still more work that needs to be done, but the way the Forum has approached this challenge over the past year is a testament to how, through teamwork and collaboration, much progress can be made. There were some doubts when the Forum first launched as to whether competitive organisations could put their differences aside and develop a strategy to collaborate to deliver and better payments outcomes for consumers."

As well as changes to the underlying payment systems and architecture, the Strategy also proposes the introduction of a key new safeguard, ‘Confirmation of Payee’, to help prevent financial fraud by allowing people to avoid sending payments to the wrong account, either by accident, or being tricked into doing so.

In addition, the proposed introduction of ‘Request to Pay’ will allow customers to authorise a regular payment, such as a utility bill or gym membership, before the company withdraws the money from their account. 

Hannah Nixon, continued:

"We don’t want the Forum to work in isolation. The Strategy is just one part of a wider shake-up of the payments industry, from supporting collaborative innovation to protecting people from fraud. The work of the Forum sits alongside work we are also doing to increase access to payments systems and restructuring the payments infrastructure. 

"When you put it all together the bigger picture is a UK payments industry that is vastly different to the one we saw when the PSR went live in April 2015. The work we are undertaking today will better serve consumers, businesses and the wider UK economy to ensure that the UK payments industry continues to be recognised as one of the most advanced and resilient in the world."

Having completed the Final Strategy, the PSR is now keen to see the Payments Strategy Forum continue to build on the work it has done to date.

The PSR has confirmed that Forum members include:

Ruth Evans Chair
Alan Smith Post Office
Becky Clements Metro Banks
Brendan Peilow Cabinet Office
Carl Pheasey Money Advice Service
Carlos Sanchez Orwell Group
Faith Reynolds Financial Services Consumer Panel
James Emmett HSBC Bank plc
Katherine Horrell Centrica
Lisa Felton Vodafone
Mark Lyonette ABCUL
Marion King Royal Bank of Scotland
Michael Maier Fidor Bank AG
Mike Smith Raphaels Bank
Neil Lover Coventry Building Society
Otto Benz Virgin Money
Paul Horlock Co-ordination between the work of the Forum and the API Implementation Entity
Philip McHugh Barclaycard
Russell Saunders Lloyds Banking Group
Ruth Wandhöfer Citi Bank
Sian Williams Toynbee Hall
Thaer Sabri Electronic Money Association
Tom Ironside British Retail Consortium

To read more about the Final Strategy, visit the Payments Strategy Forum website.

Notes to Editors

1. The PSR was incorporated on 1 April 2014 and became fully operational on 1 April 2015.

2. The PSR is the regulator and concurrent competition authority for payment systems in the UK and all participants in those payment systems (payment service providers, operators and infrastructure providers to those payment systems).

3. The PSR has three statutory objectives:

  • to promote effective competition in the markets for payment systems and for services provided by those systems, including between operators, payment service providers and also infrastructure providers, in the interest of service-users;
  • to promote the development of innovation in payment systems, in particular the infrastructure used to operate payment systems, in the interest of service-users;
  • to ensure that payment systems are operated and developed in a way that considers and promotes the interests of service-users.

4. The PSR website.